If you have any experience studying or cultivating locs, you know that proper hydration is key to preventing dryness, brittleness, breakage, and hair loss. And one of the most important ways to support your locs’ health via moisturization is to oil them now and then.
So, how often should you oil your locs? The answer may surprise you.
In this article, we’ll answer that question and give you other helpful tips you can use to keep your locs looking and feeling healthy.
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How Often Should You Oil Your Locs?
You should oil your locs once a week until you learn more about your hair’s individual needs. Over time you’ll develop a customized hair care regimen that will be focused on oiling your locs as needed.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how often you should be oiling your locs. It depends on a number of factors, including your hair type, how often you wash your hair, and what products you use.
We’ll go into each of these in a bit more detail below:
- Your Hair Type: Are your locs chronically dry? You need to oil your locs more frequently than someone who doesn’t have that problem. Conversely, if your locs seem oily or don’t show any signs of dryness, hold off on applying more oil to them. When it comes to oil-based hydration, there can be too much of a good thing.
- Your Wash Day Frequency: If you wash your hair every week, you’ll likely need to oil your locs more often than someone who washes less frequently. The longer you go between washes, the oilier your locs may be.
- Your Hair Product Choices: Some people with locs use heavy oils to retwist or maintain their locs. If you use these types of products, you can space out your loc oiling sessions farther than someone who uses aloe vera or water to retwist their locs.
Since so many factors affect how often you need to oil your locs, the answer to the million-dollar question “how often should you oil your locs?” is that it depends.
But if you want a general recommendation based on what works for other people, start with once a week. If weekly loc oiling sessions leave your hair dry and dusty looking, try twice a week.
If you find that one weekly oiling session results in greasy, unnaturally shiny locs, do it every other week or even just once a month. The frequency should be based on what works for you, not others.
The Problem with Over-Oiling Your Locs
When it comes to oiling your locs, more is not necessarily better. In fact, over-oiling your locs can lead to numerous problems.
For starters, over-oiled locs are more likely to attract dirt and dust, which can lead to buildup. Buildup has some costly consequences.
It can cause itching and irritation, and it’s notoriously difficult to get rid of.
Even worse, it can set the stage for bacterial or fungal infections. Another problem with over-oiling is that it can cause your loc foundation to weaken because the oil can make your locs heavier.
Heavy locs put excessive stress on your roots, and if the weight becomes too much, they’ll give way, and you’ll experience root thinning. This could even progress to losing entire locs.
How to Oil Your Locs
Though most of us know that oiling your locs is a great way to keep them moisturized and healthy, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. Luckily, the oiling process will become second nature once you get the steps down.
Before you get started, you’ll need to choose your oil.
When it comes to oiling locs, you’ll want to use a light, hydrating oil. Using a heavyweight oil could weigh your locs down or cause buildup.
Coconut oil is popular for oiling dreads, as it absorbs quickly and leaves your hair soft and glossy. We also love argan oil, which is rich in fatty acids that help strengthen locs and prevent breakage.
Another option is grapeseed oil, which gives your locs deep hydration without any of the added weight or stickiness of some oils.
Once you’ve chosen your oil, you’re ready to get started! Here are the rest of the steps:
- Wash your locs with a clarifying shampoo to remove any caked-on buildup or debris. Then use a lightweight conditioner if your locs are prone to dryness.
- Towel dry your locs so the oils won’t drip off them along with the excess water. But don’t dry them completely; leaving some moisture behind will result in better overall loc hydration.
- Separate your locs into at least 4 sections. Doing so will make it easier to thoroughly oil them. Use a hair tie to keep the sections separated.
- Dispense an oil of your choice into one of your palms.
- Warm up the oil by rubbing it between your palms for a few seconds.
- Choose a section and apply the oil to your locs, starting at the roots and working your way to the ends. Pay special attention to the ends because they are the oldest part of your hair and incur the most daily damage. Don’t forget to get the underside of your locs as well. If your scalp needs a bit of attention, hit it with a bit of oil.
- Once you’re done with one section, move to the next until all of your locs are done.
You’ll need to use your judgment to determine whether you’re applying enough oil to your locs. If your hair is completely saturated, then you’re using too much.
If you’re not seeing any shininess after application, you’re not using enough. If that’s the case, try using a bit more oil. Want some guidance? Watch a few videos from people with similar locs to get an idea.
Other Ways to Up the Moisture in Your Locs
Oiling your locs is not the only way to moisturize them. Here are some other things you can try.
- Apply a leave-in conditioner. This is especially good for those of us with dryness-prone locs. It provides an extra dose of moisture you can give your locs daily.
- Wash your locs less frequently. If you’re washing your locs often and seeing that they’re perpetually dry, toning down your wash frequency may be the right thing to do. Scale back your wash sessions and see how your locs respond.
- Up your internal water intake. Drink more water (or consume more foods that are high in water, like fruits and vegetables) to give your hair a moisture boost.
- Use more natural products. Many commercial products on the market contain ingredients that can be harsh on locs, like sulfates and drying alcohols. Give your locs a break from these ingredients by switching to gentler, natural products formulated with locs in mind.
- Incorporate Aloe Vera juice or gel into your loc moisture regimen. Aloe Vera is a natural humectant that imparts moisture to thirsty strands. People all over use it for its topical hydration benefits. Add it to your loc moisture mist or apply it directly for intense hydration. Most people see a real improvement in their locs after adding Aloe Vera to their regimen.
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So, there you have it – you should be oiling your locs as needed using the recommendations and procedures we’ve mentioned above. And if you want to take your locs’ moisture regimen to the next level, don’t stop at oils.
Use the other methods we mentioned to moisturize your locs and to keep your scalp moisturized. We hope that this article was helpful to you, and we wish you the best with your locs!
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care.